Online Abuse Affects Nearly Half of Adults

According to a study from the US Pew Research Internet Project, 40% of adults have experienced online harassment.

Research suggests online harassment is a common part of online life for many and can include anything from name-calling to many other serious threats. The research suggested men are more likely to be subject to name calling, while women are more likely to receive sexual harassment and stalking.

The report has come amid a rise in social media abuse aimed at women in the games industry.

Results found that 73% of adult internet users in America had witnessed experienced online harassment - from being called offensive names to witnessing someone being stalked online.

The report discovered that young adults aged 18-29 are most likely to experience online harassment, while 65% of internet users in this age group claim to have fallen victim.

The report looked at six types of abuse, including offensive name-calling, attempts to purposefully embarrass and online stalking. According to the research the vast majority of harassment took place on social networking sites.

Reporter author Maeve Duggan said: "It was striking to see how different varieties of harassment impacted different groups on different platforms, and the range of reactions online harassment elicited."

She believes that young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking online, and of those that had been personally harassed online, she found the majority chose to ignore it.

Her research also found that gaming platforms were seen as the least welcoming to women, with 44% of people saying such forums were more geared towards men.

Last month more than 2000 people signed an open letter calling for an end to "hurtful, harassing speech" on Twitter and other social media.

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